January 8, 2019
Hunter Moorhead, Legislative Consultant
Over the weekend, the White House, led by VP Pence met with Congressional Democratic staff to continue discussions to break the current partial government shutdown.
The White House gave staff a letter (attached) requesting $5.7 billion in border security funding (notable was a characterization of the border structure funding as “steel barriers”) and $800m in humanitarian assistance funding and an additional $798m in detention beds for the border.
The letter request represents approximately a $7b increase in funding for border security (and other CBP, ICE, etc.) funding related to the border over the FY 2019 request. None of the funding requested in the letter is offset.
Good news: The language and characterization of some of the items is changing, perhaps signaling movement toward common ground (or a compromise reflecting something that both sides can claim victory over). In addition, the inclusion of the $758m for support of 52k detention beds and $800m for urgent humanitarian assistance are included to gain Democratic support.
Less good news: The two sides continue to complain about the other and Congressional Democrats noted both the lack of justification materials and offsets for the spending which doesn’t signal a sense of urgency to resolve the funding impasse.
The House is scheduled to vote later this week on four individual appropriations measures closely reflecting the FY 2019 Senate passed bills for Agriculture, Financial Services/General Government, Interior, and Transportation/HUD. This is just another version of the strategy the House employed last week – passing spending measures that have previously been moved with broad bipartisan support in the Senate to put pressure on Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Republicans in that body to engage on the government shutdown.
To this point, Senate Majority Leader has indicated the disagreement is between the White House and Congressional Democrats and that he will not put a bill on the Senate floor to fund the remaining agencies of the government unless it has the support of the White House.
The President is scheduled to speak to the nation tonight at 9:00 pm. At this point, we don’t expect the President will be announcing any new agreement leading to reopening the government. In addition, President Trump will be on Capitol Hill Wednesday visiting with Senate Republicans about the government shutdown and 2019 agenda.
With this being a new Congress, are we at risk of losing previously agreed upon appropriations for FSA salaries and expenses? Can we possibly increase previously agreed upon funding levels?
At this point, the Congressional negotiators are following last year’s agreed upon funding levels. Following the shutdown, we will work with FSA leadership to determine how the Department funded operations and the possible negative impact on any available salaries and expenses funding.
Market Facilitation Program:
(Washington, D.C., January 8, 2019) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today extended the deadline for agricultural producers to apply for payments under the Market Facilitation Program as provided by the trade mitigation program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The original deadline had been January 15, 2019, but farmers have been unable to apply for the program since the lapse in federal funding caused the closure of USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices at the end of business on December 28, 2018.